Visiting a museum is a matter of going from void to void”
Robert Smithson, Some void thoughts on museums´1967
The Project for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lima, Peru is based on the two starting points outlined by the artist Sandra Gamarra who gave birth to the concept of the LiMAC: the museum should contain ‘classical’ orthogonal spaces and the building as a whole should disappear into the desert landscape of the outskirts of Lima. Both premises pleased us.
1. In the project for the LiMAC we combined two completely opposite museum typologies. The typology of the XIXth century museum which consists of a succession of rectangular rooms (the classical exhibition space) and the museum space of the XXth century: the white open space of the loft or gallery (the free floor plan with columns). In the central area of the LiMAC we inserted a gradient of square based volumes: on one side the space is developed as a series of columns on a free floor plan and towards the other side the exhibition hall converts into a group of square rooms divided by corridors. Hence the museum space creates an ambiguous relation between the contained exhibition ‘rooms’ and the open space that flows in between the volumes. In the first case the artistic manifestations find shelter in a clearly delimited space and in the second, they spread out into the open grid.
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The Dream of your own House by Sandra Gamarra
LiMAC is not an ideal museum, nor does it pretend to be a different museum either. Just as so many other real museums, it represents the desires of only a few. The museum makes tangible a space where the talking about, creating and exposing art have a true significance; where utopias are realized that make us believe they are necessary. The construction of a museum is always built on unsteady grounds. Maybe because one is never completely convinced of them, because the realized labour is never perfect, because we are not all there, because those who really have to be there are always absent. They are dreams projected in a limited space. LiMAC therefore is much closer to reality as one might expect because by possessing no limits, everything can fit into the museum. The lack of a museum, as if we would talk about a cemetery, is translated into the vanishing of the past, in denial of a process. Not having a place to commemorate the past generates a present that reinvents itself continually due to its impossibility to project a future. Since Lima is still incapable of accommodating the work of local artists, they still end up – as it often happens – in foreign or private collections or stored away in workshops. The past perverts itself and converts into a continuous present; the present overlaps and multiplies into a disorder of disconnected layers. LiMAC intends to organize these times, even when this means their burial in the past. The creation of a ‘real’ museum in Lima will not put an end to the fiction of the LiMAC; it will rather serve as a natural boundary, giving place to similar entities and generate a dialogue to attract even more participants.
The LiMAC – as so many other unaccomplished dreams – grows in our imagination, completes a collection, opens exhibitions and fills itself with people. The actual architectural project for the LiMAC is just another stage of this dream which fulfils the dream, creating the scenery for it.
Sandra Gamarra (2006)
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No Restrictions Applied by Ruth Estévez
If we consider the etymological root of the word ‘curator’ [curatela], we find the definition ‘the individual that is in charge of the wellbeing of minors and lunatics’. This term, applied to the of artistic curatorial practice has a different meaning, but still maintains it’s original significance since it refers to two characteristics well connected to the world of children and the paradigm of insanity: the curator has, as one of his many possible ways of action, the creation of a visible cartographic discourse, outside of any functional demands, conventional behaviours, official structures or even within an a-temporary perspective.
The LiMAC seems like the favourable place for this kind of curatorial choice. Conceived as a place outside the city, we should not understand it as an enclave that displaces our view towards the periphery. Buried into the Peruvian desert, it’s autonomy as an architectural exercise prevails above every site specific characteristic. Though it certainly might have some archaeological or anthropological influences related to pre-Hispanic pasts, the parallels are merely anecdotic. LiMAC is a museum conceived by spatial perspectives and thought of as an absolute gesture that plays with the grandeur of the landscape and it’s geographical abstractions.
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Talking About Space
Talking About Space. (For a Museum) by Kesten Geers
1. PRODUCTORA’s LiMAC museum talks about space. As obvious as this may sound, this is not that evident today, and far from evident in architecture. By deciding to organize the museum-space underground in a rectangular container, gradually chopped away by a set of columns with decreasing width, an important argument was made. The building is first an answer to its specific programmatic demand, and secondly a spatial type. At the same time it is important to realize what the project is NOT about. The LIMAC carefully avoids discussing about the appearance of the museum and about how the museum represents itself. Of course one might argue that this is inherent to the precise context in which the museum is incised. That context is unknown to me and I would argue that I consider it unimportant. Despite its possible response to the site, the project is developed from within. It consists of a conscious spatial typology only that deals only vaguely with the issue of its context. The LIMAC museum is designed as an underground entity. The project gives the impression of being rather dug out than implanted. Again here the emphasis is made on what is left open. The architecture becomes everything one takes away, everything one subtracts. Hence what is open, left over, becomes the crucial actor: the space of the museum. The metaphor of digging remains yet dubious. The columns seem to contradict this. The distribution of the columns reminds to the hypostyle hall filled with giant columns on a rational grid. The LIMAC museum’s principle – I would argue- shares a resemblance. Except here the size of the column changes dramatically within the project, which results in a different effect. It is this particularity that tackles ones perception: the building appears both as a dug out space and as a space that is organized according to a precise principle.
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Underground Culture by Aldo Chaparro
A few months ago I was in front of the television mechanically flicking through the channels, seeing hundreds of images go by without a single one catching my eye (the speed at which I change channels is practically unbearable for the rest of my family which means I usually watch television alone). Suddenly, an image shot into my head. It took me a few seconds to recognize it: it was the pyramid. That enormous earthen mass that marked my perception of volume for ever; a National Geographic program was analyzing facts about its construction.
When I was a boy my family lived opposite a pre-Columbian pyramid that just happened to have been hemmed in by a residential area of Lima. From my window I could see that huge bulk perfectly, standing out on the opposite side of the street against the ever hazy and grey sky of Lima the horrid – as Salazar Bondy christened it. But my experience of the Huallanmarca pyramid was not only contemplative. In that great space, on its ramps, platforms and peaks, I spent my whole childhood and adolescence, witnessing many stages in my development. From the highest point, you could see the sea and the sunset. Every summer evening we would meet up in this millennial place to do what its first inhabitants, architects and builders would surely have done.